Victor Cruz helps grieving Pinto family prior to visiting Baltimore.

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NFL players today are characters, super-human at times when they’re on the field. With their increased fame and fortune, many shine even brighter when no one else is watching.

Tuesdays are usually an off-day for players, their only day away from the team each week. While some players choose to keep to themselves and relax, others are out in the community utilizing their celebrity and fame to benefit those in need.

For instance, after spending a day at ESPN headquarters in Brisol, Conn., Ray Rice rushed back to Baltimore to show support along with this fellow teammates for Torrey Smith’s Toys for Tots Christmas Party at Jimmy’s Famous Seafood in Dundalk, Md.

Rice wasn’t the only NFL superstar visiting Connecticut on Tuesday. New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz put himself in a delicate situation – sitting aside the family of Jack Pinto, a six-year old shooting victim from the horrific tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Pinto was one of the 26 innocent people who lost their lives this past Friday. An avid fan of the Giants, Pinto was buried on Monday in Cruz’ No. 80 jersey – his favorite player.

A day following the shooting, Cruz heard of Pinto’s admiration of him. Suddenly, one of the most horrific tragedies had an immediate link to the third-year wide receiver. Cruz dedicated the Giants game against the Atlanta Falcons in his honor.

Cruz is most notably recognized for his foot work during his salsa dancing in the end zone following a touchdown, but on Sunday his feet were the focus of a different type of attention. On his cleats, Cruz wrote, “Jack Pinto” and “My Hero.” Even though Cruz was unable to find the end zone in the 34-0 loss to the Falcons, a greater loss weighed heavily on his mind.

This Sunday, Cruz will step onto the field at M&T Bank Stadium as the Giants – much like the Ravens – look to better their chances of winning their division. It isn’t often that visiting players are well received, but if you see Cruz or are within shouting distance, thank him for what he has done.

While you’re at it, do the same with most of the other players you see out in the community helping others.

At a time where much of the focus is on fame and fortune inherited to NFL players, thanking them for their service to the community is a compliment that will mean more than anything money and fame could buy.

What Cruz did for the Pinto family was compassionate, and shouldn’t go unnoticed by Ravens fans when they see him on Sunday.

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